By Paula Nechak
September is a seminal month in the history of "airmail" service.
We may take airmail for granted these days—postal workers have spoiled us with their mission of "Neither rain nor hail nor sleet nor snow nor heat of day…," and the advent of email has sped the communication process up even further. But for those looking for a career with no cap on its sky, learning to fly has limitless appeal.
Flying Pilots in a New Frontier
Getting a letter from or to a family member or loved one who lived in another part of the country wasn't always so easy. Before the 20th century, sending and receiving mail took weeks or months. Back in the rogue days of America's formation, people depended upon horse and stage coach to traverse the rugged territory and deliver the mail. Orville Wright's historic airplane flight at Kitty Hawk didn't broach the possibility of airmail until 1903, making the concept of airmail relatively modern.
The Wright Brothers' flight changed the way the world could communicate, opening options for air travel and speedier access to people and businesses that resided far away. The Postal service was ready and able to capitalize on this new technology too, and after eight years of aviation pioneers making improvements upon the flying machine, revealed their strategy for "airmail" service.
Airmail Makes its Move
The first successful mail drop with a pilot took place at an air show on September 23, 1911. Centennialofflight.gov reports that a man named Earle Ovington took an oath in Mineola, NY, and became the first "official"—though unpaid for his efforts—U.S. airmail pilot. He flew a monoplane six miles to the post office and dropped a pouch of mail from the cockpit where the Mineola postmaster collected the bags. During the week-long show, Ovington carried over 32,000 postcards, 1,000 circulars and nearly 4,000 letters.
On September 10, 1918, the first Chicago to New York airmail trip to be completed in a single day occurred. This transportation of mail took an overall time of nearly thirteen hours. On the flight's arrival in the New York area, the pilot was unable to locate the Belmont Park airfield in the dark. With his plane running out of fuel, the pilot attempted an emergency landing, but misjudged the altitude. The plane hit the ground too hard and was damaged.
This caused the mail to be forwarded without any special markings. When mail is undamaged in a crash and there are no special crash markings—meaning an envelope or package that has been recovered from a plane crash or train wreck or other accident—the mail is considered to be interrupted mail and it is necessary to research the cover to determine whether it was in a crash or not.
Soar Into Aviation – a Thriving Career Field
Of course aviation has changed radically since those first airmail flights a century ago, and plane travel is now among the safest in the world. The days of waiting a month for a letter seem archaic and primitive to us, since we can board a plane and travel to Australia non-stop in fourteen hours.
With radical advances in the field and with technology changing by the day, more and more opportunities have presented themselves, allowing students and professionals to take their career to new heights with an online degree.